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Infrared Thermography in China---Part 1

I find I cannot speak about anything in China without using the term “beyond belief,” which is also typically modified by superlatives. This definitely holds true for the opportunities that lay ahead of this remarkable country for using thermography.

The Fluke China sales team, with Fluke Product manager Michael Stuart in the middle of the back row, is all smiles after completing their Level I class and testing last winter!

I visited China in spring 2007 on a personal journey to trace the roots of my family—my mother and father were both born near Shanghai (1911 & 1912) to missionary parents, so I’ve always had a strong affinity for the culture and the people. This past winter, I returned to China (with Fluke Product Manager, Michael Stuart) to provide training and support to a number of the members of the Fluke sales team. I must say I was very impressed with this group—so much so that we worked together with Fluke to define an impressive long-term plan for their continued professional development.

Shanghai, one of the most dynamic cities I’ve ever been to, had boomed in the three years between my visits. The same was true of other parts of this vast country I visited: high-rise buildings, roads, auto traffic, “maglev” trains, industry, commercial ventures, tourism, agriculture—everywhere I turned the changes were undeniable.

Two of my colleagues, Rob Spring and Ron Conner, were back again this summer to continue our work and expand it to include visits with key customers and other thermography users. Rob and Ron, having no previous comparative visits, simply validated my feelings of “wow!”

All three of us continue to be very impressed with the caliber of the Fluke China team, their vision for working with customers, and their willingness to learn. Despite the challenges of working through simultaneous translators, they consistently demonstrated a passion and curiosity—all with a gentle sense of humor—that made our work a pleasure! We saw this in the customers, too (clearly dealing with Herculean tasks), who recognize the value of the technology and, in most instances, are beginning to reap significant returns from applying it to solve their maintenance and production problems.

Magnetically levitated trains are just part of the immense infrastructure being built all over China. This one now runs from Shanghai to the PUD international airport—at speeds in excess of 300mph!

Of course much of what we saw is not unlike what we see in other countries, the US included—everything from brilliant maintenance engineers using their imaging systems expertly, to overburdened managers who’ve barely used them. It is the vastness of the needs and the applications and especially the rate of growth that all boggle the mind. Infrastructures of the scope you find virtually everywhere in China, especially built as rapidly as theirs have been, inevitably come with their own inherent problems. Most of the people we worked with recognized this fact and accepted the responsibility of solving them—particularly welcoming thermography as a valued tool in the process. The knowledge and experience the Fluke China team is gaining will be very supportive to those customers.

If you’ve not been to China, please understand that writing this week’s blog is very challenging. How many times can I use words like “immense” or “vast” without losing credibility? To those who have recently visited this remarkable country, you know how difficult it is to accurately describe what one encounters—and you also know I’m being truthful!

Next week I’ll get into some of the specifics of what we saw and did in our travels.

Thinking Thermally,

John Snell—The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

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